How to do competitor analysis on your Google competitors

You have been around the block enough to know the value of a competitor analysis for your company, I’m sure. But when it comes to paid search, it’s extra important. And it is perhaps not done as often as it should be. At Web Atomic, we bake the scientific approach into everything we do, and competitor analysis of clients’ Google rivals is very much part of this.

So let’s take a look at the ways you can gain insight into your competitors and the value it brings you, as well as some of the tools – free and paid – that can help you achieve a good understanding and further your goals.

Understanding who your competitors are

A good competitor analysis for paid search will actually tell you much more than who your competitors are. Because the industry is so data driven, there’s a lot of information which you can use to refine your overall PPC strategy.

The most important thing to learn from your competitor analysis is how to differentiate from them. With the right tools you can track their ad messaging over time and see how this develops. Learning what works for your competitors can not only provide you with ideas on how to differentiate, but also you can use some of their messaging as a test in your own ads.

You do of course, though, want to know who they are too (it may be obvious, but it’s worth highlighting that they will not necessarily be the same companies who compete with you in the physical world or even on other platforms).

Add to this, you want to know “what” they are: what type of organisation and where they are in the food chain in relation to you. This will vary by which industry you are in, and what you are selling. But consider that it is unlikely to be just mirror-images of your business which are competing for clicks with you. There could be affiliates, resellers, comparison shopping engines, partners and search arbitragers to name a few.

Doing this regularly will provide real insight into your competitive landscape. You can see when new competitors enter the market, seasonal variation in behaviour and how the market responds to big external events. It will help you act early on keyword trends and, by looking at competitor messaging and landing pages, you can refine your own.

Free tools: Auction Insights, Google Trends, Keyword Estimator

There are free tools to show you how well you (and your competitors) are doing, as well as for what your target market are searching.

Auction Insights is available within Google (and Microsoft for that matter) and shows you a good level of information on how your competitors are bidding against you on your keywords.

Using overlap rate, position above rate and outranking share are all useful ways to see how you are performing against your competitors. You can view these reports by specific campaigns so you can see how competition varies by types of keywords – or whatever your campaign settings are.

Over time, you can use it to build up your understanding of who competitors are on specific keywords, how you are all performing relatively, any changes in competitor behaviour and any new competitors that start bidding on your keywords.

Auction insights is the main way to review your Google ads competitors for free, but it isn’t the only way.

Google Trends and Keyword Planner focus on the keywords and your audience. Google Trends shows you the popularity of specific search terms on Google and YouTube. So you can use it to see what is trending, find subtopics and spot geographical nuance.

One particularly useful aspect is the Breakout Words feature which highlights words that have experienced 5,000% growth rate in usage. This gives you the opportunity to bid on new effective keywords before they become competitive. Be careful though that the trend does not pass as quickly as it arrived.

Keyword planner is helpful for understanding search volume and competitiveness of keywords as well as suggesting alternative keywords.

Google searches themselves can be useful for some casual competitor research too. You can see which ads are being served up, what the messaging is, and at the bottom of a search page are up to eight suggested search terms. Just be wary that heavy use could skew what you see as Google will start to react to your behaviour of not clicking on ads and stop showing you ads altogether.

Paid tools summary

There are, of course, a myriad of paid tools you can use to help with your Google competitor analysis (as well as the general running of your PPC campaigns), some of which we use ourselves at Web Atomic.

KeywordCompetitor finds the paid keywords, ads and landing pages of your competitors and updates you with the daily changes so you can see how the market is moving.

SEMrush is a quick way to see who is advertising on keywords you plan to use, the other keywords they are using and their ad copy.

KeywordSpy shows you the most profitable combination of keyword and ad copy from your competitors on target keywords.

Adthena is a more comprehensive and accurate view of how competitors are bidding, but only on the terms you select

Further advice on Google competitor analysis

As I said earlier, data is at the heart of PPC and there is a lot of information available to you from different sources. At Web Atomic, we always recommend regular competitive analysis to give you a competitive edge. For help on setting this up, contact our team today.

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